The Top 7... Best games of 2011 (so far)

Have you already played the best videogame 2011 has to offer? The question may sound crazy with six months – and a massive, sequel-stuffed holiday calendar – left to go, but just look at the contenders. A Valve masterpiece. A Rockstar epic. A Nintendo classic. An Epic experiment. Three of the titles below scored a perfect 10/10 on our site and, depending on which GamesRadar editor you ask, the other four possibly deserved to as well.

These are the best games of the year, so far. Can future releases like Skyrim, Arkham City, Gears or Uncharted 3 knock them out of the running for best game of the year, period? Share your predictions in our comments.

7. L.A. Noire


GamesRadar’s review

In the month or so since its release, L.A. Noire has become pretty divisive, even in our own offices. On the one hand, the game is smartly written, visually fascinating and unlike anything else on the market. On the other, some find its system of evidence and interrogation too rigid and confusing, and its action tends to favor “dramatic” outcomes instead of, say, simply letting players catch up with fleeing perps. It’s not perfect, and it’s not for everyone.

So why’s it on this list? Ambition, for starters. At its core, Noire is a linear detective story that tells you when to investigate, when to shoot and when to ask questions, but it isn’t content to stop there, and lavishes an incredible amount of detail and personality on its freely explorable re-creation of 1940s Los Angeles. Its story pulls no punches, and is immensely compelling as a result, with memorable characters whose motion-captured faces turned out surprisingly easy on the eyes.

What’s almost more interesting, however, is the way Noire makes failure an option. Missed clues and flubbed questions can and will affect the flow of each case, but the story continues, regardless. Infuriating to some, this nonetheless is an incentive to replay cases, hunt for things you missed, and see new sides of the story that you maybe didn’t know were there. Again, there’s really nothing else quite like Noire out there, and few games this year have stuck in our minds quite as much.

What’s almost more interesting, however, is the way Noire makes failure an option. Missed clues and flubbed questions can and will affect the flow of each case, but the story continues, regardless. Infuriating to some, this nonetheless is an incentive to replay cases, hunt for things you missed, and see new sides of the story that you maybe didn’t know were there. Again, there’s really nothing else quite like Noire out there, and few games this year have stuck in our minds quite as much.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

GamesRadar’s review

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. A masterfully remade version of one of the most celebrated and best-selling adventures our medium has ever seen? Of course it’s going to be in this article. And even though this remake of a 1998 game bumps something genuinely new off the list, we can’t imagine there’s much dissent. Everything that made Ocarina memorable back then is still relevant today, making this a perfect introduction to the series for newcomers, as well as a misty eyed love letter to those who sprinted home from school to ride across the Hyrulian countryside way back in 1998.

As you can see, the most drastic changes are visual; gone are the vague and fuzzy graphics of the N64 original, now replaced with sharp, updated models and crisp textures that make previously amorphous areas crystal clear. Animation is improved too, giving Link a more realistic trot and detailed facial expressions. Best of all, the cumbersome inventory system that made equipping and un-equipping items a chore is replaced with an entire touch screen on the 3DS, offering quick and easy access to all of Link’s wonderful gadgets. In short, everything that could have been improved has been, and there’s no good reason to sit this one out. If you played the N64 one to death, this is still worth the money. If you’ve never played Ocarina at all, then this is without a doubt the version you need to own. Either way, you really should be playing this.